The Balance: The surprising thing that can shorten older people’s lives

When it comes to how long you’ll live, it’s your family — not your friends — who may be the deciding factor.

Older adults who have more family — or close relationships to their family — in their social network live longer, according to a study presented this week at the American Sociological Association’s 111th annual meeting in Seattle. However, having large groups of friends or close relationships with friends doesn’t prolong your life.

“We found that older individuals who had more family in their network, as well as older people who were closer with their family, were less likely to die,” says James Iveniuk, the lead author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

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